145CFCAE4CF141A994BCECF655DCFF55


 

Table of Contents

Introduction.. 4

A. ACCESS TO FINANCE. 6

GRO/SME/17/A/01 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – LOAN GUARANTEE FACILITY INCLUDING THE SME INITIATIVE  6

GRO/SME/17/A/02 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – EQUITY FACILITY FOR GROWTH.. 11

GRO/SME/17/A/03 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – ACCOMPANYING ACTIONS. 14

B. ACCESS TO MARKETS. 17

GRO/SME/17/B/01 - ENTERPRISE EUROPE NETWORK. 17

GRO/SME/17/B/02 - YOUR EUROPE BUSINESS PORTAL. 21

GRO/SME/17/B/03 - EU-JAPAN CENTRE FOR INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION.. 23

GRO/SME/17/B/04 - Internationalisation of light industries SMEs. 25

GRO/SME/17/B/05 - IP AUDIT AND IMPROVING ACCESS TO UNITARY PATENT PROTECTION FOR INNOVATIVE EU SMES  27

GRO/SME/17/B/06 - Training for SME-friendly policies in Central Purchasing Bodies. 33

GRO/SME/17/B/07 - Creating links for the facilitation of public procurement of innovation. 35

GRO/SME/17/B/08 Improve the user-friendliness of Points of Single Contact. 38

C. FRAMEWORK CONDITIONS FOR ENTERPRISES. 43

GRO/SME/17/C/01 - SME POLICY (SPR, Start-ups, outreach). 43

GRO/SME/17/C/02 - EU REFIT Stakeholder Platform for Better Regulation. 47

GRO/SME/17/C/04 - ACCELERATING THE UPTAKE OF BIG DATA AND SUPPORTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF B2B DIGITAL PLATFORMS IN EUROPE. 49

GRO/SME/17/C/05 – MONITORING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND KETS. 52

GRO/SME/17/C/06 - European Cluster Excellence programme. 56

GRO/SME/17/C/07 Industrial Modernisation and Smart Specialisation. 60

GRO/SME/17/C/08 - BLUEPRINT FOR SECTORAL COOPERATION ON SKILLS -. 68

GRO/SME/17/C/09 – Nanomaterials Observatory. 73

GRO/SME/17/C/10 – Enhancing the Competitiveness of the European Tourism sector. 75

GRO/SME/17/C/11 - European Incubation Network(s) for creativity-driven innovation. 81

GRO/SME/17/C/13  - Construction 2020. 84

D. ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ENTREPRENEURIAL CULTURE. 88

GRO/SME/17/D/01 – ERASMUS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS. 88

GRO/SME/17/D/02 – Peer-Learning activities in Entrepreneurship Education and in Women Entrepreneurship   91

GRO/SME/17/D/03 - Social Business Initiative: digitisation/ collaborative economy and social enterprise – promoting social considerations into public procurement. 95

Annex I - Overview Table COSME 2017 Work Programme. 98

Annex II - Eligibility criteria and Selection and award criteria. 100

 


 

Introduction

The Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) - COSME - is the Union’s programme to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises, to encourage an entrepreneurial culture and to promote the creation and growth of SMEs.  It contributes to the overall objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth while seeking to optimise synergies with other EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). As set out in the COSME legal base[1], these objectives will be met by:

a)  improving access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt;

b)  improving access to markets, particularly inside the EU but also at a global level;

c)  improving framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises, particularly SMEs, including in the tourism sector;

d) promoting entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture.

COSME has an overall indicative budget of EUR 2.3 billion for the seven-year period 2014-2020. The programme is executed through an annual work programme and through support measures. The work programme for 2017 has a total budget of €298 million of which some 60% is allocated to financial instruments and some 20% to activities promoting enterprises' access to markets – the two main priorities of the programme.

The work programme is structured according to the four action areas and linked to the implementation of the Commission's policy priorities, in particular on promoting jobs, growth and investment, upgrading the single market and digital single market and implementing better regulation.

Helping SMEs and start-ups to grow is one of the priorities of the Single Market Strategy[2]. In 2017, several COSME actions will be geared towards the implementation of this priority. The financial instruments will support SMEs and start-ups to access both equity and debt funding. The Enterprise Europe Network will continue to facilitate SMEs' access to markets both within the EU and beyond. The Your Europe Business Portal will be developed towards an online gateway for SMEs and entrepreneurs to facilitate the cross-border operations of companies, in particular start-ups.

Public procurement and intellectual property are among the key areas for action of the Single Market Strategy. As part of the COSME work programme, the Commission aims, among other things, at facilitating SMEs' access to public tenders through the training of large public buyers on SME-friendly policies, providing IP audit services to innovative SMEs and improving the Unitary Patent protection.

A number of COSME 2017 actions are dedicated to promoting the modernisation of industry: the use of new technologies by SMEs and the access to data-driven economy. These include the creation of digital B2B platforms, the uptake of big data and digital technologies by enterprises and the promotion of Smart Specialisation strategies, e.g. through clusters. Moreover, the actions targeted to key sectors of the European economy, e.g. tourism, construction, automotive industry or defence aim at boosting the growth and competitiveness of businesses in these sectors.

To promote entrepreneurship, we continue to enhance the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, a mobility scheme which, in the period 2009-2013 has led to more than one third of its participants starting-up their own company.

Implementing the Commission's Better Regulation agenda has a crucial importance in improving the framework conditions for enterprises and removing administrative burdens to the starting and scaling-up of companies' activities. All 2017 COSME projects have been designed according to the "Think Small First" principle with a strong focus on SMEs. In addition, the EU REFIT platform to promote better regulation will continue to be financed by COSME.

The Commission has committed to mainstream climate action into Union spending programmes and to direct at least 20% of the Union budget to climate-related objectives. In this view, the need of enterprises to adapt to a low-carbon, climate-resilient, energy and resource efficient economy will be promoted in the implementation of the Programme.

While the Commission remains responsible for the implementation of COSME, some implementing tasks are delegated to an executive agency, the European Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), while the financial instruments are entrusted to the European Investment Fund (EIF).

The Commission will draw up an annual monitoring report on the efficiency and effectiveness of supported activities, on the basis of a set of indicators set out in the COSME Regulation and in this work programme.


 

A. ACCESS TO FINANCE

The first specific objective of COSME, is “to improve access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt” as described in Article 8 of the COSME Regulation. Specific provisions for the financial instruments are provided for in Article 16 – 19, with the Equity Facility for Growth covered by Article 18 and the Loan Guarantee Facility by Article 19.

The COSME Regulation specifies that at least 60% of the total budget (EUR 1.4 million) has to be allocated to the financial instruments for 2014-2020.

In 2017, there will be up to three actions to be financed under this specific objective with a budget of around EUR 174 million.

GRO/SME/17/A/01 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – LOAN GUARANTEE FACILITY INCLUDING THE SME INITIATIVE

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

Provide enhanced access to finance for SMEs in their start-up, growth and transfer phases through a debt financial instrument.

Description of the actions to be financed

One of the financial instruments set up under COSME is the Loan Guarantee Facility (LGF) which provides

·         Counter-guarantees and other risk sharing arrangements for guarantee schemes including,  where appropriate, co-guarantees;

·         Direct guarantees and other risk sharing arrangements for any other financial intermediaries.

The LGF is the successor of the SME Guarantee Facility established under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme - CIP (2007 - 2013). Based on the experience gained under CIP and in line with requirements formulated for financial instruments under the Financial Regulation (EU, Euratom N° 966/2012 of October 2012) the terms and conditions for the COSME financial instruments have been adjusted.

The implementation of the LGF is entrusted to the European Investment Fund (EIF). A continuous open call for expression of interest has been published by the EIF to which financial intermediaries may apply at any time until 30 September 2020. The call sets out the terms and conditions for the different implementing mechanism under the LGF (capped guarantees, guarantees for securitisation transactions). These may be complemented by calls for those Member States which have opted use the COSME resources for the SME Initiative as set out below.

The characteristics of the LGF in the form of capped (counter-)guarantees are:

·         Guarantees for debt financing (including via subordinated and participating loans, leasing or bank guarantees) which shall reduce the particular difficulties that viable SMEs face in accessing finance either due to their perceived high risk or their lack of sufficient available collateral;

·         Up to an amount of € 150,000 all types of SMEs (regardless of sector or size) will be eligible for financing under the LGF. Above the threshold financial intermediaries will have to verify that the SME is not RDI driven and therefore not eligible for financing under the Horizon 2020’s SME & small midcaps debt financing window (InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility). As regards the level of the guarantee, the entrusted entity will provide guarantees to financial intermediaries which will cover a portion of the expected losses of a portfolio of newly generated, higher-risk SME transactions.

·         The portfolios shall be composed of transactions which the financial intermediary would not have supported in the absence of the guarantee. The range of financial products which can be supported through the guarantees is intended to be broad so as not to discriminate amongst the SME population and to allow financial intermediaries to tailor products according to the specific needs of the market in which they operate.

·         Individual guarantee agreements to be signed by the entrusted entity with a financial intermediary will have a maximum duration of 10 years, whereby it shall be permissible that individual financing transactions have maturities exceeding 10 years. Individual financing transactions must have a minimum duration of 12 months.

The characteristics of the LGF in the form of guarantees for securitisation transactions are:

·         Guarantees for the mezzanine tranche of securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios, which are coupled with a contractual undertaking by the financial intermediary to build up new SME debt finance portfolios. The amount of this new debt financing shall be calculated in relation to the amount of the guaranteed portfolio risk. This amount and the period of time shall be negotiated individually with each originating institution by the entrusted entity.

The LGF is demand-driven meaning that the allocation of funding will take place based on the demand expressed by financial intermediaries also taking into account the need for a broad geographical distribution (e.g. through incentives to be provided from the Commission to the entrusted entity).

 

Relationship with Horizon 2020:

The LGF is part of the single EU debt financial instrument for EU enterprises’ growth and research and innovation (R&I), together with the InnovFin SME Guarantee facility set up under the Horizon 2020 programme. The InnovFin SME Guarantee facility, which is also entrusted to the EIF for implementation, provides financing to SMEs and small midcaps with significant research, development and innovation (RDI) potential or investments in RDI activities, both with significant technological and financial risk provided that these are eligible under the innovation criteria as set out in the open call for expression of interest published for this facility.

Financial intermediaries will be free to apply either for one or both facilities under COSME and Horizon 2020 in line with their business objectives and possibilities to reach the potential target group of the different facilities.

 

LGF contribution to the EU SME Initiative

The EU SME Initiative is conceived as an anti-crisis measure with budget commitments over 3 years (2014-2016); building on the EU financial instruments that support lending to SMEs (COSME LGF and/or InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility under Horizon 2020).

It is implemented as a "joint instrument", i.e. - a mechanism allowing Member States to allocate European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) under their responsibility to programmes managed directly by the Commission, with disbursement geographically linked to contributions. This mechanism is provided for by the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) governing the implementation of ESIF and the principle of such combination is also contained in the legal basis for COSME and Horizon 2020.

The SME Initiative is implemented in the form of uncapped portfolio guarantees and/or securitisation operations using funds from COSME and/or Horizon 2020 and ESIF combined with resources from EIB and EIF. Member States are free to decide on the desired implementation mechanism as well as on the central EU financial instrument with which the pooling of resources shall occur.

Under both uncapped guarantees and securitisation, ESIF will guarantee the most junior tranche of the portfolio (i.e. the highest risk) and a combination of ESIF, EU (i.e. COSME and/or Horizon 2020) and EIF resources will cover the mezzanine tranche. The senior tranche will be covered by EIB and, if possible, national promotional banks. In the case of securitisation, the senior tranche should achieve high credit rating and could be sold to institutional investors.

Participation by Member States is entirely voluntary, with initially only Spain and Malta participating and both countries opting for the combination of resources with Horizon 2020. Further to the invitation by the Commission, especially following the announcement of the Juncker Plan in November 2014[3] to support investments into the real economy, a number of additional Member States expressed interest to participate in the SME Initiative such as Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Finland and potentially Greece. Bulgaria, Romania and Finland opted for a combination of resources with Horizon 2020, under the uncapped guarantee option. Italy opted for a combination of resources (from the 2016 budget) with COSME under the securitisation option of the SME Initiative. A third amendment of the COSME Delegation Agreement covering the securitisation option has been signed in 2016.

 

Relationship with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)[4]

As the resources which can be made available under the LGF are not sufficient to satisfy market demand (i.e. total of applications received from Financial Intermediaries by the EIF) for the financing of SMEs, a second amendment of the COSME Delegation Agreement was signed on 22 July 2015, allowing for the combination of LGF resources with additional risk-bearing capacity under EFSI so as to avoid disruptions in signing transactions with financial intermediaries. The maximum overall guarantee provided under EFSI towards the LGF shall not exceed EUR 500 million.

Such combination allows addressing sub-optimal investment situations in the Member States at a much faster pace than would have been possible under COSME LGF only. In the current set-up, the frontloading of the LGF budget necessitates that budget which may become available in later years of the programming period will be used to replace the EFSI risk-bearing capacity by the COSME LGFThis frontloading mechanism is only applicable for capped guarantee transactions signed with financial intermediaries in Member States.

Given the continued high market demand for the COSME LGF as expressed through applications received by the EIF, there is a high likelihood that the COSME LGF budget appropriations for the whole programming period are not sufficient to cover market demand. Therefore, at the time of writing this work programme, the Commission is investigating the possibility to convert the frontloading into a permanent top up under the SME Window of EFSI.

Expected Results

The EU added value will lay in the fact that financial intermediaries are encouraged to finance transactions which they would not finance in the absence of the guarantee due to the higher risks involved. In addition, the expertise of the EIF allows dissemination of best practices to less developed SME financing markets via dedicated information tools and can support product innovation (e.g. facilitating the creation of mezzanine products).

It is expected that over the lifetime of the programme between 220,000 and 330,000 SMEs will receive financing for a total value ranging from EUR 14 to 21 billion.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Indirect Management

Loan Guarantee Facility including SME Initiative

122 429 120

Total

 

122 429 120

The budget amount of the LGF will be increased by the amount of annual repayments generated by the LGF and assigned to the LGF in accordance with Articles 21(3)(i) and 140(6) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012.

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Delegation Agreement signed with the entrusted entity

Call for expression of interest launched by the entrusted entity

First due diligence conducted for potential financial intermediaries

First agreements signed with Financial Intermediaries

First agreements signed benefitting from EFSI support

Q3 2014

Q3 2014

 

Q4 2014

Q4 2014

Q3 2015

Indicative total duration (months): The Delegation Agreement shall be valid until the last of the transactions under the programme is fully completed (latest by 2034).

The call for expression of interest shall be open for application by the financial intermediaries throughout the lifetime of the programme with a latest date for application being                   30 September 2020.

Indicators

Indicators for 2017 budget:   

Volume of financing made available and number of firms benefiting from financing: Value of financing mobilised ranging from € 2.3 billion to € 3.5 billion; number of firms receiving financing which benefits from COSME guarantee ranging from 36 000 to 54 000.

The above values have been computed based on the leverage targets of COSME which calls for a leverage of 1:20 - 1:30 for the debt instrument. They refer to new SME loan portfolios built during the whole availability period of individual deals with financial intermediaries authorised in 2017.

Due to the fact that additional COSME LGF transactions will be signed under the EFSI guarantee in 2017 exceeding the available budget for 2017, the value of financing and the number of firms that will benefit from this financing is expected to double the number mentioned above.

 


 

GRO/SME/17/A/02 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – EQUITY FACILITY FOR GROWTH

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

Provide enhanced access to finance for SMEs in their start-up, growth and transfer phases through an equity financial instrument.

Description of the actions to be financed

The Equity Facility for Growth (EFG) is one of the successor instruments of the High Growth and Innovative SME Facility (GIF) established under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme - CIP (2007 - 2013). It succeeds the GIF2 window set up under GIF to cover expansion stage investments into SMEs. Based on the experience gained under CIP and in line with requirements formulated for financial instruments under the Financial Regulation (EU, Euratom N° 966/2012 of October 2012) the terms and conditions for the COSME financial instruments have been adjusted.

The implementation of the EFG is entrusted to the European Investment Fund (EIF). A continuous open call for expression of interest, including the detailed terms and conditions, has been published by the EIF to which financial intermediaries may apply at any time until 30 September 2020.

Through the EFG risk capital funds can be supported which invest into SMEs at the growth stage, predominantly on a cross-border basis, or which help portfolio companies to grow beyond their national markets with a view to supporting the development of a self-sustainable pan-European risk capital market.

The characteristics of the EFG are:

  • The entrusted entity shall make direct investments in intermediary risk capital funds providing investments for SMEs typically in their expansion and growth stage. These risk capital funds shall provide equity and mezzanine finance, such as subordinated or participating loans;
  • Investments shall be long-term, normally involving 5 to 15 year positions, whereby the life of an investment shall not exceed 20 years;
  • Investments may also be made into risk capital funds investing at the seed, start-up and early stage in conjunction with the Equity Facility for R&I (Research and Innovation) under Horizon 2020 whereby the investment from EFG shall not exceed 20% of the total EU investment;
  • In the case of multi-stage funds, the COSME EFG and Horizon’s Equity Facility for R&I will contribute pro rata to the funding of the risk capital funds based on the fund’s investment policy.

The EFG is demand-driven, meaning that the allocation of funding will take place based on the demand expressed by financial intermediaries also taking into account the need for a broad geographical distribution (e.g. through fee incentives which the Commission has provided to the entrusted entity).

Relationship with Horizon 2020:

The EFG is part of the single EU equity financial instrument for EU enterprises’ growth and research and innovation (R&I), together with the Horizon 2020 early-stage equity facility. The InnovFin SME Venture Capital under Horizon 2020  will focus on risk capital funds investing in seed, start-up and early-stage SMEs and small midcaps that are RDI-driven.

Financial intermediaries will be free to apply either for one of the two facilities under COSME and Horizon 2020 or for both in line with the fund’s investment policy. The InnovFin SME Venture Capital succeeds the GIF1 equity facility under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.

Relationship with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

The implementation of the EFG may be subject to review, reorientation or adaptation due to EFSI.

Expected Results

The EU added-value will lay in the fact that support is provided for funds investing on a cross-border basis or funds which help SMEs to internationalise, thereby complementing national efforts which tend to concentrate on the development of national risk capital markets. The EFG will thereby have a catalytic effect for the development of a pan-European risk capital market.

It is expected that over the lifetime of the programme between 362 and 544 firms will receive venture capital investment with overall volume invested ranging from € 2.6 to € 4.0 billion.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Indirect Management

Equity Facility for Growth

50 000 000

Total

 

50 000 000

The budget amount of the EFG will be increased by the amount of annual repayments generated by the EFG and assigned to the EFG in accordance with Articles 21(3)(i) and 140(6) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 and by the amount of annual repayments generated by the second window of the High Growth and Innovative SME Facility established under Decision No 1639/2006/EC (GIF2) and assigned to the EFG in accordance with Articles 14(7) and 21(4) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012.

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Delegation Agreement signed with the entrusted entity

Call for expression of interest for EFG only launched by the entrusted entity

First due diligence conducted for potential financial intermediaries

Updated call for expression of interest covering Horizon 2020 early –stage facility and the EFG

First agreements signed with Financial Intermediaries

 

Q3 2014

Q3 2014

Q4 2014

Q3 2015

Q4 2015

Indicative total duration (months): The Delegation Agreement shall be valid until the last of the transactions under the programme is fully completed (latest by 2034).

The call for expression of interest shall be open for application by the financial intermediaries throughout the lifetime of the programme with a latest date for application being 30 September 2020.

Indicators

Indicators for 2017 budget:   

Overall risk capital invested and number of firms being supported: Overall value of  risk capital investments ranging from € 0.2 billion to € 0.3 billion; number of firms receiving risk capital investments ranging from 27 to 41.

The above values have been computed based on the leverage targets of COSME which calls for a leverage of 1:4 - 1:6 for the equity instrument. They refer to investments made during the life-time of risk capital funds in which COSME EFG investments were authorised in 2017.

 


 

GRO/SME/17/A/03 - FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS – ACCOMPANYING ACTIONS

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

1. Survey on SMEs’ access to finance

- to address a substantial lack of available information on the financial situation of SMEs especially with respect to timely information;

- to increase availability and quality of data on SMEs access to finance for policy-making purposes, particularly concerning the start-up and growth of SMEs;

- to limit the statistical burden imposed on enterprises by the data collection requirements imposed by the Commission and the ECB and by conducting only one comprehensive survey;

- to allow both institutions to fulfil their individual data collection task in a very cost-efficient manner by sharing the overall costs and through economies of scale by pooling the purchasing power and the resources.

2. Studies

- to support policy making initiatives;

- to monitor the recent developments of SMEs' access to finance in Europe.

3. Workshops

- to bring together all stakeholders (SME representatives, banks and other organizations);

- to improve policies on financing innovation and SMEs;

- to follow, discuss and make proposals concerning SME financing in the European Union;

- to monitor the SME financing environment, exchange good practices and communicate about European Union actions.

4. Information and communication

- to improve dissemination of information to beneficiaries;

- to promote the use of guarantees, venture capital and alternative sources of finances for SMEs;

- to inform SMEs about access to EU sources of financing on a single webportal, to be accessed through Your Europe Business.

Description of the actions to be financed

1. Survey on SMEs’ access to finance

Timely information on the financial situation of SMEs is necessary for evidence based policymaking. Taking into account our obligation to limit the burden that data collection places on SMEs, the Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) designed a joint survey on the financial situation of SMEs. The Commission waves (the survey that is co-financed by ECB and Commission) will be conducted once a year. Survey provides comparable results across EU Member States and other participating countries.

Previous Commission waves of the survey were conducted in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

2. Studies

The studies will be carried out on SME financing in order to support policy making.

The Commission foresees inter alia to carry out a study to explore the opportunities created by FinTech to enhance SME access to finance, notably with a view to improve supply of and access to alternative forms of finance (crowdfunding) in the EU.

3. Workshops

Workshops with SMEs, banks and other financial institutions will be organised to monitor the market situation and to facilitate SMEs’ access to finance. The workshops will be organised on an ad-hoc basis depending on interest/needs expressed by stakeholders, SME financing trends and political priorities. The latter include follow-up of actions initiated under the 2015 Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union.

4. Information and communication

Difficulties in accessing finance are one of the main obstacles obstructing the growth of SMEs. There are multiple structural and cyclical causes for such obstacles. Information asymmetries between the suppliers and demanders of funds play a major role. The Commission will promote the use of EU financial instruments through communication activities in support of SMEs' access to EU financial instruments and other sources of EU finance through a variety of tools (websites, events, publications, audio-visual and social media).

The Commission will continue to update and to promote the single web portal on EU finance, to be accessed through Your Europe Business.

Expected Results

The expected results are:

-         Improved understanding of SME access to finance issues and developments;

-          Limited statistical burden on the SMEs and efficient use of resources for the statistical purposes;

-         Input for the evidence-based policy making and identification of the needs to adjust policies on SME access to finance;

-         Easier access by SMEs to relevant information about EU sources of finance;

-         Positive feedback from participants on quality, relevance and added value of activities.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

implementation mode

TITLE

Budget

Specific contract under a framework contract

Survey on SMEs’ access to finance

650.000

Specific contract under a framework contract

Study on FinTech and alternative finance for SMEs

Study on access to finance

200.000

 

200.000

Reimbursement experts

Workshops

100.000

Specific contracts under framework contracts

Promotional activities

100.000

Specific contract under a framework contract

EU Single Web Portal on EU Finance

200.000

Total

1 450 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Conferences/meetings/workshops/studies/single web portal/promotions

Q1 – Q4 2017

Indicative total duration: 12 months

Indicators

1. Survey on SMEs’ access to finance

- Timely carry-out of the survey

- Level of dissemination of results in media

- Geographical and thematic coverage of the survey

2. Studies

- Timely carry-out of the studies

- Positive feedback from the stakeholders on quality, relevance and added value of studies

- Geographical and thematic coverage of the studies

3. Workshops

- Organise 3 to 5 events on issues relevant to policy making

- Positive feedback from participants on quality, relevance and added value of workshops

- Number of proposals generated or further developed through the workshops

4. Information and communication

- Level of dissemination of results in media

- Positive feedback from participants on quality, relevance and added value of events and promotional material

- Number of visits to the single web portal 

 


 

B. ACCESS TO MARKETS

The second specific objective of COSME is “to improve access to markets, particularly inside the Union but also at global level” described in Article 9 of the COSME Regulation. Specific provisions for the Enterprise Europe Network are provided in Article 10.

The COSME Regulation specifies that an indicative 21.5% of the total budget has to be devoted to easing access to markets.

In 2017, there will be up to 9 actions financed under this specific objective with a budget of more than EUR 71 million.

 

GRO/SME/17/B/01 - ENTERPRISE EUROPE NETWORK

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The Enterprise Europe Network activities directly contribute to the overall Europe 2020 objectives of smart and sustainable growth, aiming at a competitive environment and stimulating the innovation capacity of businesses, especially SMEs. At the same time, the Network is a sounding board and a link between the Commission and the SME community in the implementation of the Think Small First principle and the Small Business Act. It aims to:

-         Help EU SMEs finding international business, technology and research partners in the EU, COSME participating countries and third countries;

-         Develop and provide a balanced integrated service range to SMEs to become active in the Single Market and beyond (e.g. regarding EU legislation and programmes, EU funding, intellectual property rights), linking up with regional actors and policies to ensure regional integration of the network's services;

-         Increase competitiveness of SMEs by internationalisation and innovation support services;

-         Contribute to the SMEs feedback function to obtain SMEs opinion on Union policy options;

-         Strengthen support for SMEs interested in participating in Horizon 2020 and corresponding calls for proposals, in particular encourage SMEs to participate to the SME Instrument; seek cooperation with Horizon 2020 national contact points.

-         Provide support to enable SMEs to turn the climate resource efficiency and renewable energy challenge into opportunities, including providing information, assistance in participation in European-funded projects, and partnering and advice on resource efficient practices (contributing to the Climate Action, Green Action Plan and Eco-innovation Action Plan); 

-         Improve SME’s awareness on access to finance including alternative sources of financing;

-         Improve SME's awareness about other EU initiatives such as the Your Europe portal and the forthcoming Single Digital Gateway and connected assistance services;

-         Ensure visibility, recognition and local awareness about the Network;

-         Ensure follow-up and coordinate implementation of the priority actions defined in the Annual Guidance Note to the Network.

Description of the actions to be financed

The Enterprise Europe Network provides business support services – in particular for SMEs – by offering information, advisory services, feedback and partnering services, innovation, technology and knowledge transfer services. The Network provides services encouraging the participation of SMEs in the COSME and Horizon 2020 programme as well as internationalisation services beyond the Single Market and informs SMEs on funding opportunities under the European Structural and Investment Funds. The Network helps SMEs with regards to access to finance and EU funding and helps them to become more resource and environmentally efficient including through eco-innovation (e.g. Green Action Plan, verification of environmental technologies (ETV)).

Network organisations were selected by calls for proposals and signed grant agreements to cover the first operational period 2015-2016.  The budget requested in the COSME work programmes 2016 and 2017 will be mainly used to cover the second operational period 2017-2018.  Applicant organisations have to be established in EU Member States or in countries participating in the COSME programme under Article 6 of the COSME Regulation; they are legal entities, fully or partly public or private bodies; corporate bodies must be properly constituted and registered under the law.

 

The Network animation tasks include:

-         Governing the Enterprise Europe Network, in particular by organising the annual conference, Steering Groups, Working Group meetings or Network stakeholder meetings;

-         IT tools and databases, in particular by operating, maintaining, improving and developing new IT tools and databases, ensuring data quality, and maintaining an IT helpdesk;

-         Ensuring full operation of the Network in an efficient and proactive way;

-         Helping the Network to provide its services in an efficient and effective manner and at the highest quality possible;

-         Enabling Network partners to provide their services to European SMEs based on the "no wrong door principle".

-         Network communication, information and support, implementation of the  communication plan, prepare and make promotional material and infrastructure available, increase the Network visibility and facilitate networking;

-         Training: implementing an operational training plan (following the guidelines defined in the training strategy for the EEN);

-         Services to the Network, in particular managing knowledge contents, the forums system, valorising practices and running sector groups;

-         Assistance to and mentoring of Network partners where quality of activities and services needs to be raised; regularly report on Network achievements, weaknesses, quality and risks.  Report on Network achievements and performance indicators on a regular basis as defined in the monitoring and reporting guidelines, using an automated (IT developed) reporting system to avoid administrative burden where possible.

 

The budget for Network animation may also include the budget needed to facilitate the integration of EEN Business Cooperation Centres located in Third Countries (travel and subsistence costs for training, working groups, steering groups, annual conference or sector groups) 

 

During the third year of the Network in the COSME programme, the aim is to organise the Annual Conference 2017 for the Network for about 800 participants in the country holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. The action includes all practical aspects for the conference (consisting of national meetings, opening session, parallel workshops, closing session, exhibition areas, catering etc).

JUSTIFICATION: An ad-hoc grant will be granted, without an open call for proposals

under Article 190(1)(c) RAP, to government (or its representative), of the country that

will hold the EU Council Presidency (Malta, in 1st half of 2017 and UK in 2nd half 2017).

Expected Results

The expected results are:

-          Increased number of SMEs linked with other entities across Europe for cross-border business cooperation, technology and knowledge transfer and technology and innovation partnerships.

-          Higher rate of European SMEs exporting within the Single Market.

-          Higher rate of European SMEs exporting outside Europe.

-          Better understanding of European SMEs of EU legislation and of opportunities offered by EU programmes and EU access to finance.

-          Better knowledge in EU institutions of SMEs opinions, difficulties and expectations.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Specific grant agreement under framework partnership agreement

Enterprise Europe Network

59 743 244

Specific contracts under framework contract

Network Animation 2017

2 950 000

Grant - ad hoc grant Art. 190 RAP

Annual conference

150 000

Total

62 843 244

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Signature of the contracts for Network Animation

Q1- Q4 2017

Signature Grant agreements for EEN members

Q1 2017

Grant - ad hoc grant Art. 190 RAP – Annual Conference

Q4-2017

Indicative total duration: 12 months (2017) for Network Animation contracts.

Duration of 24 months for Network grants (budget of 2016 together with budget of 2017 covers the operational period 2017-2018)

 

Indicators

For the Network:

-          Number of achievements (including business/technology/research Partnership Agreements and Advisory Service Outcomes);

-          Number of SMEs reached via (digital) information services;

-          Number of SMEs participating in brokerage events and company missions;

-          Number of SMEs receiving support services (information, advice and partnering);

-          Impact on clients businesses: increased turnover, jobs created/maintained, new products or services developed, new markets accessed;

-          Client satisfaction on the received services.

For the animation contract:

-          Number of Network staff trained (centralised, de-centralised and e-learning);

-          Number of Network staff having participated in staff exchange and mentoring activities;

-          Number of visits to the public website of the Network

For the annual conference:

-          Satisfaction of participants

-          Number of participants

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

60% for the Network grants

90% for the annual conference grant

extra information

It is estimated that the budget of the Enterprise Europe Network contributes for 26% to the climate action objectives.

 

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/02 - YOUR EUROPE BUSINESS PORTAL

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

–Develop the Your Europe Business portal, in support of the Digital Single Market and the Single Market Strategies, so as to become an essential part of the online gateway for SMEs and entrepreneurs who want to better know their rights and obligations when starting/managing a business in a different EU country;

–Provide practical information on the EU-wide rights/obligations, in particular in priority areas, as outlined in the above mentioned strategies;

–Reinforce cooperation with the Members States, to provide seamless access to information on practical implementation of the EU rules through national legislation;

– Enhance links with national business portals (such as Points of Single Contact portals) and use sustainable ways of content provision for national information (e.g. content syndication);

– Use synergies with relevant assistance services, such as the Enterprise Europe Network, the EU.Go network, SOLVIT, Your Europe Advice, EURES: optimise signposting and inter-linking;

- Add access to the most relevant e-procedures for businesses

- Improve findability  of the portal through search engine optimisation and online outreach, using partnerships with stakeholders and Member States;

Description of the actions to be financed

Your Europe Business Portal aims at being the reference public information portal for enterprises, in particular SMEs, interested in cross-border activities within the European Union. Your Europe Business provides a multilingual practical guide that facilitates cross-border transactions.

Your Europe Business Portal is part of the Your Europe Portal that includes a Business and a Citizens section (financed outside the COSME programme). The portal offers all the information businesses and citizens need to exercise their single market rights in Europe. Its unique selling point is that it informs not only about the EU rules, but also how these apply in practice in each Member State. In addition, the EU-level information is multilingual (in 23 official languages of the EU (all except Gaelic) and in Norwegian. Country-specific information is available in the national language(s) and English. Thus Your Europe offers businesses, public administrations and stakeholders a one-stop-shop and easy access to information on doing business in Europe, it also signposts to more specialised information and help services, when relevant, and provides access to appropriate e-procedures.

This measure is the continuation of the actions under the objective of creation of an environment favourable to SME co-operation, particularly in the field of cross-border co-operation. It also supports measures announced in the Digital Single Market and the Single Market Strategies, in particular the work towards a Single Digital Gateway for businesses.

Expected Results

Through Your Europe Business the companies will be provided practical information on doing business in the Single Market. Your Europe Business as an online gateway to information, e-procedures and specialised services for businesses, as listed above. In particular, Your Europe Business complements the services provided by the Points of Single Contact and the local business support services provided by the Enterprise Europe Network, offering businesses a seamless link from information to customised personal assistance. The goal is to increase the number of visits, as well as to constantly increase the visitors’ loyalty.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Specific contracts under a framework contract

Your Europe Business Portal

450 000

Total

 

450 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Specific contract under a framework contract

Q2-Q3 2017

Indicative total duration: 12 months

Indicators

- Number of visits to the portal (increase by 15% per year);

- Feed-back on user satisfaction based on a survey (target satisfaction rate above 90%).

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/03 - EU-JAPAN CENTRE FOR INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

To improve the access of European businesses in particular SMEs into the Japanese market, by providing them with the needed data on local conditions, by acquainting them with commercial and industrial practises and by providing them with material and immaterial logistic support. Also to promote the training on production technologies, quality management and innovation (e.g.  Vulcanus, Human resources training programme, World class manufacturing) aiming at improving the competitiveness of EU businesses.

Description of the actions to be financed

In line with the EU and Japan’s growth strategies and the priority topics of mutual interest, the EU-Japan Centre will continue and further expand its focus on the following main thematic areas: SMEs internationalization support (horizontal priority across all activities); Olympics 2020 business opportunities (i.e. Clean Energy, Raw Materials, Construction Products, Smart Cities, Public Procurement, Environmental Services; Healthy Ageing Populations; industrial innovation and business related R&D, including cooperation on yet unexplored high-tech sectoral niches such as satellite navigation industry and services (GNSS), awareness-raising of on-going Free Trade Agreement negotiations and possible outcomes for European SMEs.

 

Meanwhile, policy seminars on horizontal industrial policy elements (standardization, ICT, KETS (Key Enabling Technologies)etc.) and market access will remain constant priorities, together with the more ad-hoc events proposed for joint organization by the EU Delegation in Japan, the Member States and/or the Japanese authorities. Collaboration with EURAXESS[5] Links, linking European and non-European researchers in a global community, should be developed.

 

In terms of priority activities, the EU-Japan Centre primarily intends to significantly consolidate its business support relevance, particularly for SMEs, by an enhanced use of Enterprise Europe Network, in synergy with the training and industrial innovation/R&D activities, by expanding its cluster related activities and particularly by maintaining two recent initiatives on business information support and logistic support. On information support: the comprehensive web info portal “EU-Japan Business Bridge” (http://www.eu-japan.eu/publications/eu-japan-bridge-essential-guide-eu-business) will be further developed and targeted at SMEs in both EU and Japan. On concrete logistic support ,“Step in Japan” will continue to offer free “soft-landing” type of support (hotdesk, meetings/seminar space, info, interpretation support) for EU SMEs, within the Centre’s premises. The Tax and Public Procurement Helpdesk for European SMEs a new service which intends to support the market access of European companies (particularly SMEs) to Japan. It takes the form of first-line information and advice on tax and public procurement (PP) and related issues, plus related training, materials and online resources.

 

Furthermore, in order to consolidate its policy analysis/think tank activities and output, a competitive fellowship scheme (“Minerva Fellowship”) set up in 2014 will be continued. The fellowship will be targeted towards younger EU and Japanese academics, trade/ economic analysts and civil servants, with an active interest in Japan and EU-Japan cooperation from multiple perspectives (trade/market access, economy, industrial policy, business, R&D, etc.).The fellows undertake policy analysis on priority topics and support the regular policy agenda of the Centre.

Expected Results

1. At least 30 European participants for the “Vulcanus” in-company traineeships

2. Improved information services and helpdesk to SMEs

3 -Successful organisation of a new session of the training programmes.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Action grant directly awarded on the basis of Article 190 (1)(d) RAP and Article 4 of the Council Decision 92/278/EEC

EU-Japan Centre For Industrial Cooperation

2 800 000

Total

 

2 800 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Invitation to submit a proposal

Q1 2017

Signature of the grant agreement 

Q2 2017

Indicative total duration: 12 months (1st April to 31st March)

Indicators

1.  Number of seminars organised and attendance

2.  Number of enquiries addressed to the Centre and satisfactory replies provided

3.  Number of students participating in Vulcanus  and their level of competence

4.   Number of participants to the executive training programme

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

90%

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/04 - Internationalisation of light industries SMEs

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The main objective of the action to raise export performance of the SMEs in the light industries through an increased use of new opportunities offered by recently signed EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). 

Once concluded and implemented, these agreements need to be widely known and understood by the economic operators especially SMEs.  As a matter of example, we can underline the fact that the EU textiles companies needed 3 years to start benefiting from the FTA with Korea, whereas Korean companies were ready to benefit from the agreement from the first year of its application.

The European light industries are composed of more than 200.000 companies generating a turn-over of €180billions and employ more than 1.8 million workers. In their big majority, these companies are SMEs without adequate knowledge to develop their export potential while, by their competitive position, they are willing to export. If the major part of their sales is done in the EU, the recent evolution shows a significant increase in our extra-EU exports that today represent more than 30% of EU trade.

Due to the complexity and the segmented character of the sector's value chain, appropriate information about recent Free Trade Agreements reaches only difficultly the entrepreneurs. In order to fully benefit of the FTAs, the companies need timely and accurate information on, amongst others:

a) Rules of Origin of these new agreements for certificates supplier declarations, forms, insurances;

b) customs procedures and specific regimes;

c) Regulatory requirements and conformity assessments (testing, certificates etc.);

 

Description of the actions to be financed

- Dissemination of information on export markets for textile/clothing products with special focus on EU FTAs to SMEs to enable them using and  benefiting from the international markets potential and preferential agreements.

- Dedicated tailor-made trainings and information services performed in the companies on light industries-specific customs procedures & regulatory requirements.

- Provision of tailor made coaching sessions to companies' trough service such as assistance for evaluation of export potential of companies, identifying managerial financial and technical solutions, including export marketing plans to sell to the focused countries abroad.

-Provide business audits and guidance services for companies willing to launch themselves to the focused markets.  Special emphasis has to be given to neo-to-export business.The action could be complemented downstream by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).  The main focus of the action is linked to capacity building in SMEs in order to create the conditions of developing exports.  Afterwards, EEN could help companies to find customers abroad (main activity of EEN on internationalisation).

The action will focus on the most recently concluded FTAs; South Korea and Canada, as well as Japan and US. Possible extension to other promising markets, such as China, Latin America could be envisaged in a next step.

Expected Results

-Increase of export capacity of companies reflected on the share of exports to third countries on their production

-The nature of the action by definition is tailor made to SMEs of the light industries sector.  These companies in particular need to have some "tailor made services" in order to export.  They need information, know-how, and business services to launch themselves in this activity.

-The main deliverable of the activity would be the number of companies (especially neo-to-export business) that decide to perform exports.

 

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Call for tenders or specific contract under a framework contract

Internationalisation of Light Industries' SMEs

800 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the contract/grant agreement

Q1 2017

Q2 2017

Q3 2017

Total duration of the contract agreement: 20 months

Indicators

a) Number of companies participating in this action

b) Number of companies who have started exporting or increased exports,  after this action

c) Increase in % (or in EUR) in the volume of exports to focus countries

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

Not applicable

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/05 - IP AUDIT AND IMPROVING ACCESS TO UNITARY PATENT PROTECTION FOR INNOVATIVE EU SMES

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The general objective is to better access to markets in the EU through a better protection of intellectual assets of SMEs via the use of intellectual property rights. It would secure better return on investment for innovative and creative SMEs.

 

The action also seeks to facilitate access of EU innovative SMEs to the unitary patent. Providing information on the business use of Unitary Patents and providing financial support for Unitary Patent registration costs, external legal advice costs, as well as patent litigation insurance costs will contribute to promote access to other markets within the EU as well as promoting growth amongst European SMEs. This measure is part of the implementation of intellectual property support actions for SMEs outlined in the Single Market Strategy.

An efficient European IP framework should support innovative start-ups and SMEs in creating and developing IP portfolios, allowing them both to earn sufficient returns on their investment in innovation and to raise capital for future innovative activities. This will in turn allow SME to grow and to create new jobs. However, the reality is that SMEs’ usage of the IP system is minimal. 99% of SMEs do not own any patent, 91% do not own any registered trade mark, and only 0.7% own a registered design. Nine out of 10 SMEs do not own any of the above industrial property rights. The picture is further worsened when considering EU wide IP rights titles owned by SMEs.

Although no cause-effect can be firmly established the truth is that SMEs that use IP generate 32% revenue more than their peers not using IP. SMEs need to be made aware of the benefits of using IP rights. In this respect the creation of the Unitary Patent offers a major opportunity. SMEs might be reluctant to take an untested IP right. Hence it is necessary to reach out to SMEs to inform them about the opportunities linked with this new IP title and encourage SMEs to use it by co-financing part of the associated costs

One of the main factors contributing to a sub-optimal use of the IP system by SMEs is the relatively high costs of the system, which include not only the application/registration fees but also the costs of external legal advice. Given the fees level of the unitary patent, many SMEs may still find it to be too expensive and targeted financial support may help them to seize the opportunities offered by a patent that gives protection in most EU countries.

The external costs of patent applications (notably those of patent attorneys) are often an important economic burden for SMEs, as they usually cannot afford an internal IP lawyer. However, the advice and specific competence of patent attorney in drafting patent applications is a necessary step to ensure the protection sought will match the needs of the SME.

SMEs are also reluctant to use patents due to potential litigation costs. A patent that is not defended, in case it is infringed, loses most of its value. Thus, the use of patents requires readiness to assert rights in legal proceedings. Patent litigation is expensive and requires expertise both on the patent law and on the technology at stake. Without adequate legal and technical expertise, and without the financial means to face the initial risks of litigation, a small business cannot afford to litigate. Supporting the litigation costs through co-financing a patent insurance covering the costs associated with the settlement of legal disputes relating to Unitary Patents will again facilitate the access to unitary patents. This will allow for a better buying of the unitary patent system by SMEs, and at the same time facilitate the emergence of an EU wide market for IP litigation insurance, with the potential to also cover other types of IP right (such as trade marks and designs)

 

Description of the actions to be financed

1 – IP Audits

 

IP Audits consist of IP experts providing a comprehensive advice on IP rights to a selected number of SMEs. The advice is based on an analysis of the product and services portfolio of the SME, the industry and markets it operates in or intends to. This allows SMEs to better understand how to use the IP system to their benefit, building IP portfolio according to their specific needs and potential. In France, and a number of other MS, the system is offered free of charge to a certain number of SMEs having national or European patents. A similar system is envisaged for SMEs requesting Unitary patents and other EU IPR titles. Cooperation with The European Enterprise Network, EPO, EUIPO and/or IP national offices might be useful. This measure is part of the implementation of intellectual property support actions for SMEs outlined in the Single Market Strategy.

Criteria for eligible SMEs would be set up with the aim of selecting truly innovative SMEs and innovative start-ups:

·         up to five years of existence and

·         recognition of innovative capacity and quality by the seal of excellence of the SME instrument, equivalent recognition of innovative capacity from ERDF financed research and innovation projects

·         or successful involvement in one of the EU funded innovation projects that does not finance IP services (as the SME instrument and some other innovation funding cover such costs).

The implementing entity will need to organise the scheme: link the eligible and interested SMEs to the experts that would provide them with the IP audit service and cover the costs of the experts. Afterwards the entity will need to seek and collect the feedback on the satisfaction of the SME and on the impact the service had on the SME.

 

2 - Facilitate access to the unitary patent

 

This action will include:

(a)The creation of a network of intermediaries and of a coordination office.

 

The network will be formed by public or private entities involved in IP and /or business support. It will provide information on the unitary patent, on the availability of this funding scheme and will channel the financial support to successful candidates among innovative SMEs. A coordination office will be setup to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the measure. In particular, it should support the intermediaries in the proper selection of SMEs, in accordance with Commission guidance, assess the quality of the services provided and the good overall management of the scheme. The coordination office together with the intermediaries will track the impact of the support given on the participating SME. This will allow assessing the usefulness of this pilot exercise.

 

(b) Co- financing, the acquisition of Unitary patents by innovative SMEs

 

This measure will support innovative SMEs in obtaining Unitary patents by financing up to 50% of the unitary patent fee (up to a maximum of €2500), co-financing up to 50% of the external costs of legal advice related to the grant of the unitary patent (up to a maximum of €2000), and co-financing up to 50% of the costs of unitary patent litigation costs insurance premium (up to a maximum of €2500). The intermediaries costs can be reimbursed up to 75%. The role of intermediaries will be to reach out to potentially eligible SMEs, inform them about the funding scheme, organise the selection of the SME applying for the scheme and provide them the financial support. Together with the coordination office, intermediaries will also monitor the impact of the use of the Unitary Patent by SMEs that have received this financial support.

 

The SMEs that could receive partial reimbursement of Unitary Patent costs (fees, external legal advice costs and patent litigation insurance premium) should fulfil the following indicative criteria:

 

1. Obtain a Unitary Patent granted,

2. Receive the seal of excellence in the Horizon 2020 SME instrument or an equivalent indication of high quality innovation capacity (best SMEs among those that receive the seal of excellence or equivalent to be specified in the call for proposals).

This measure is targeted at SME that receive the seal of excellence, as they do not receive funding for patent protection costs. The beneficiaries of the SME instrument can finance patent and other intellectual property protection and advice from the SME instrument funds

 

Expected Results

1 – IP Audits

We expect at least 600 SMEs to receive the IP audit services. We expect that it will foster a better use of IP by SMEs leading to better return on innovation and creativity investment. It will contribute to the more adequate and frequent use of European IP rights by SMEs (upcoming unitary patent and existing trade mark and design rights). The SMEs could enjoy better profits for their businesses (a recent study indicated that on average SMEs using IP created 32% higher revenue per employee).

Additionally, the implementing entity will draft a report on the lessons learned from the implementation of the measure: who are best suited experts, how to best address SME, what are the conditions to have the best impact on the SME through IP audits.

 

2 - Facilitate access to the unitary patent

To increase the number of SMEs protecting their intellectual assets with unitary patents and therefore support their capacity to generate revenue and obtain return on investments on their inventions and creations.

- at least 4 000 SMEs reached with information on the Unitary Patent and this financing scheme

- at least 400 SMEs that obtain a Unitary Patent with the financial support of this scheme

- at least 50% of the SME that obtained a Unitary Patent provide feedback on the economic benefits related to it

- cover at least 15 EU Member States.

The scheme, if successful, could be extended to other EU IPR titles after the evaluation of this measure.

Should the budget be revised the targets would be adjusted proportionately.

 

the method of implementation nd the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Call for tenders/proposals[6]

IP audit for European innovators

Up to a maximum of EUR 4 000 000

(Estimated expenditure EUR 1 000 000, this can be increased or decreased according to the levels of demand for IP audits vis-à-vis the demand for accessing the Unitary Patent)

Call for proposals

Improving access to unitary patents

Up to a maximum of EUR 4 000 000

(Estimated expenditure EUR 3 000 000, this can be increased or decreased according to the levels of demand for accessing the Unitary Patent vis-à-vis the demand for IP audits)

Call for tenders

Coordination office

EUR 300 000

 

 

In case a revision of the work programme allows the budget of the CfP should be raised to reach more eligible SMEs.

Total

 

EUR 4 300 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

IP Audits

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the contract

Q1 2017

Q2 2017

Q3 2017

Total duration of the contract: 36 months depending on the use of the budget.

Facilitate access to the unitary patent

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the contract

Q4 2016

Q1 2017

Q1 2017

Total duration of the contract/grant agreement: up to 36 months

Indicators

1 – IP Audits

Quantity of IP audits implemented (at least 600)

Satisfaction of SMEs with the service (at least 90% of participating SMEs)

SMEs that provided feedback on the impact of the IP audit (at least 33%)

SMEs confirming the IP audit had a positive impact on their business

 

2 - Facilitate access to the unitary patent

- Number of SMEs reached with information on the Unitary Patent and this financing scheme

- Number of SMEs that obtain a Unitary Patent with the financial support of this scheme

- Number of SME that obtained a Unitary Patent providing feedback on the economic benefits related to it

- Number of EU Member States covered

 

Long term indicators:

Number of participating European SMEs that obtain a unitary patent

Number of SMEs that use the unitary patents to protect newly introduced products and/or services, that license out such patents, to obtain more favourable financing terms or obtain other economic benefits.

Economic benefits due to the use of the unitary patent – quantified.

 

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING IN FACILITATING ACCES TO the unitary patent

The call for proposal maximum co-financing rate should be 75% for intermediaries and 50% for SMEs that receive the support for of the unitary patent fee (up to a maximum of €2500 per eligible SMEs), for external costs of legal advice related to the grant of the unitary patent (up to a maximum of €2000 per eligible SMEs), and for the costs of unitary patent litigation costs insurance premium (up to a maximum of €2500 per eligible SMEs).

 

 


 

 

GRO/SME/17/B/06 - Training for SME-friendly policies in Central Purchasing Bodies

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

To contribute to the professionalization of staff working for large public buyers (called central purchasing bodies, cpbs) covering in particular SMEs' access to public procurement (pp) markets and increase their knowledge of public procurement.

The proposal contributes to the COSME objectives:

·         A training programme that seeks to enhance the professionalization of CPB personnel will provide detail on how to access and aggregate markets for public procurement;

·         A professionalization programme will also help personnel to manage markets, and in particular to assist with the inclusion of SMEs in public procurement competitions.

·         The centralisation of public procurement functions may impact on the broader market, at a local, regional and European level.  Training of personnel to understand and manage is imperative.

Description of the actions to be financed

CPBs are among the largest buyers at national level since they launch and manage large calls used by all relevant public authorities to procure certain goods or services. By aggregating demand, CPBs may reduce SMEs access to PP markets and therefore it is essential that CPBs buying practices allow for SMEs access to public procurement markets.

 

The action aims at ensuring participation in a specialised university programme on public procurement to have personnel better trained on Public Procurement within CPBs.

 

Funding will be given to one or two universities in the EU, possibly located in a city well connected with priority[7] countries.

 

Funding to the university will cover tuition fees for the training programme, travelling cost, and accommodation. The university(ies)[8] beneficiary of the grant will take care of managing travelling and accommodation of participants. The university(ies) will organise a conference at the end of the course, where the cohort would meet with best practitioners in public procurement in the EU. 

·         The content of the action should include public procurement law and practical tendering processes, as well as strategic procurement and supply chain management, to ensure CPBs can benefit from private sector procurement efficiencies while maintaining compliance within public procurement legislation and guidelines.  Strategic Procurement also allows for policy areas, such as assisting SMEs with access to public procurement markets, as well as Green and Social procurement to be addressed

·         Target participants of the programme would be, in particular, staff from newly established CPBs .

Expected Results

The expected results of the university/academy programme will include:

·         Approximately 30 staff from across Member States to have completed the programme and increased their knowledge and understanding of procurement

·         The establishment of a pan-European network of highly skilled public procurement officials that have taken part in the programme

·         The development of knowledge-sharing initiatives in their own Member State in order to further professionalise CPB personnel

·         The potential for the university(ies) involved in the process may wish to expand the course outside of this funded programme, providing further education in public procurement to officials. 

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Call for Proposals

Training for SME-friendly policies in Central Purchasing Bodies

350 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Total duration of the grant agreement: 12 months

Indicators

·         Number participants in the training courses, per MS, per year

·         Number of Priority Countries included in the training course

·         Number of knowledge sharing initiatives developed at CPB level by beneficiaries

·         Satisfaction Level of  the participants, survey

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

90% of eligible costs.

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/07 - Creating links for the facilitation of public procurement of innovation

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

       To help innovative SMEs and start-ups grow and develop by allowing them to address public demands through the use of public procurement.

       To create adequate links between government, research institutions and the private sector by adding the buying potential of large buyers or other aggregators of public procurement to the mix. This should open up opportunities to participating SMEs and start-ups to develop new products, services and to grow or scale up their operations.

       To contribute to the creation of an innovation-friendly business environment and the overall competitiveness of the European economy.

Description of the actions to be financed

This action proposes to bring together potential public buyers, suppliers of innovation (with a special focus on SMEs and start-ups), and potential investors and researchers, with a view to determine projects suitable for public procurement of innovation.

The purpose will be to:

       Determine the emerging needs of the public sector (i.e. large buyers) in strategically selected technologies

       Provide network with stakeholders, such as scientists and other suppliers of knowledge (e.g. start-ups) in strategic fields

       Provide for the engagement of funding partners: public funds (such as EU funding opportunities), private funds and large enterprises willing to provide funding at various stages of commercialization of innovation

       Allow for the brokering funding opportunities, technological and business aspects between all stakeholders

 

Pilot projects will be identified in order to help them developing a proof of concept.

 

Programme funding would include the following activities:

-       A Facilitator for networking activities and stakeholders management;

-       Logistics, including travelling costs of participants

-       the proof of concepts of selected projects

-       Stakeholders' costs relating to the participation in the process (the cost of procurement of the relevant goods or services is excluded from this funding).

 

The facilitator would engage with large buyers and/or aggregators of public procurement to identify a small number of needs (problems). Subsequently, the facilitator would engage the "sources of innovation" (i.e. startups, innovative SMEs) through its network and asked them to provide solutions for the identified need. A small number of those solutions would receive funding to develop their competitive ideas to a proof of concept that the enterprises could pitch to the buyers for potential procurement at a later stage.

 

The action would involve parties coming potentially from any EU MS. This new approach will be tested for further wider application at EU level.

 

There is also a clear focus on the promotion of SMEs and start-up companies, who could become involved through pilot projects to provide innovation through this programme.

Expected Results

As a result of the programme, the Facilitator is expected to broker a small number of public procurements of innovative products or services and demonstrate the effectiveness of this model of cooperation. Because of the complexity of these processes it is expected that such procurements could occur in the mid-term (at the earliest). 

The pilot projects will be well-documented in order to allow for analysis of experience and future optimisation of the process and better inclusion of SMEs and start-ups. The results would also be useful for further development of the business model of operation for such Facilitators. The Facilitator will not be procuring the actual goods or services.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Call for proposals

Capturing the growth potential of innovative SMEs in public procurement

600 000

Indicative Funding Breakdown:

€250,000 – Funding for networking events, including costs related to attendance for stakeholders (estimated at 15 events)

€300,000 –Funding for pilot projects proof of concept (may include a two-phase approach to short-list potential pilot projects)

€50,000 – Funding for the Facilitator role, to include reporting, project management, etc.

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the grant agreement

Q1 2017

Q3 2017

Q4 2017

Total duration of the contract/grant agreement: up to 24 months

Indicators

KPIs – Year 1

  • Established relationship with the main stakeholders
  • Determinated public needs that could strategically be solved by procurement of innovation

 

KPIs – Year 2

  • Number of SME's, start-ups and other sources of innovation identified for inclusion in the programme
  • Number of Public Sector Buyers included in the programme

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

90%

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/08 Improve the user-friendliness of Points of Single Contact

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The objective of this action is to improve the user-friendliness of the PSCs, based on the results of the user testing carried out under COSME 2016. This should take account of the needs of both national and cross-border users (mostly SMEs).

 

The global aim is to turn the PSCs into well-functioning and easy-to-use e-government business portals that are built around the needs of the users (both national users as well as those from other EU Member States) and that are equally accessible to national users and those from other Member States.

 

Background information

The Points of Single Contact (PSCs), created under Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market, were created to support and simplify SMEs' access to the internal market. This is done by requiring the Points of Single Contact (which have been set up in each Member State in the form of online portals) to provide information on regulatory requirements that the companies need to comply with and allowing the companies to complete administrative procedures online.

The PSCs, however, do not yet live up to their full potential. Greater account should be taken of the actual needs of businesses. This has been confirmed by business organisations, inter alia BusinessEurope and Eurochambres, and by the recent study undertaken to evaluate the performance of the PSCs: The Performance of the Points of Single Contact: An Assessment against the PSC Charter.  The PSCs will be one of the most important elements of the "Single Digital Gateway", which was announced in the Digital Single Market Strategy as well as in the Single Market Strategy (as a support measure for start-ups).

Well-functioning Points of Single Contact are an important instrument  for companies wanting to operate in another EU country as they ease administrative burden linked with obtaining relevant information on regulatory conditions in other Member States. It is important that the PSCs when providing their services (information and possibility to complete procedures online) take into account the needs of users, mostly SMEs. Only comprehensive, well-structured and easy to use PSCs can support SMEs in entering new markets within the EU. Digital transformation requires that public e-services like PSCs constantly adapt to the expectations of their users.

 

Description of the actions to be financed

The user testing carried out under COSME 2016 will lead to a report with detailed recommendations per PSC on how to improve each portal in a user-friendly way (both for national and cross-border users). The COSME 2017 action will build on this outcome and will  support Member States in implementing these recommendations. This will lead to PSCs which better reflect the needs of users (both national and cross-border, as the user testing will cover both categories of users).

 

This could include, for example, structuring the information better by applying the business life cycle approach & providing for different pathways for different users (e.g. whether national or cross-border), improving the search functions and links with the websites of different competent authorities, provision of more foreign language content, better written text through editorial support.

 

Expected Results

Improvement of the user-friendliness of the Points of Single Contact based on the results of user testing. This will directly benefit SMEs (of a country as well as cross-border-active ones) which need to find out about applicable rules and requirements and carry out administrative procedures.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Specific contract under a framework contract or Call for tenders

Improved user-friendliness of Points of Single Contact

500 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Specific contract under a framework contract

signature: Q2 2017,

action to be run Q3-4 2017, Q1 2018

 

Indicators

- Number, nature, or scope of modifications made to the PSC portals as a result of the project, and degree of implementation of recommendations after user testing

- Increase of user traffic to PSC websites, both from national and cross-border EU users

 

 


 

GRO/SME/17/B/09 - OPEN FOR BUSINESS CAMPAIGN 2018

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

When it comes to the Single Market, small business operators often suffer from an information deficit: They do not know enough about their Single Market rights, nor about EU funding opportunities that are available to them nor about free-of-charge EU support networks and e-tools such as the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), SOLVIT, Points of Single Contact (PSC) and the Your Europe Business Portal. That's why chapter 2.2 of the New Single Market strategy says:

"The Commission will re-direct COSME funds to information campaigns targeting young innovative SMEs to encourage them to expand cross-border and make use of the possibilities offered by the Single Market."

 

The lack of knowledge about the available services and funding for SMEs could result in a misperception of the business environment.

 

This is why a corporate communication campaign is necessary to inform the EU business community (especially small and medium-sized enterprises - SMEs) how they can benefit from the EU Single Market.

 

Moreover, boosting the confidence in the Single Market will help stimulate economic growth.

Description of the actions to be financed

The "Open for business" campaign 2018 will target small business operators in at least 5 target countries per year that will be selected on the basis of different criteria: (i) potential improvement of the economic outlook, (ii) improvable framework conditions for SMEs (iii) low engagement with the European project and rising euroscepticism, (iv) presence of active local partners (e.g. Enterprise Europe Network), (v) local interest in single market.

 

The campaign will be based on key messages addressing specific needs/problems that SMEs are facing: e.g. finding new clients and new business partners, accessing finance for competitive enterprises.

 

The main communication tools will be: advertising in print media, on the radio, on online and social media.

 

In order to better target the messages, focus groups will be created in order to provide feedbacks on each element of the campaign such as the creative concept, messages, media mix etc. These groups will be formed by experts and/or members of the target group (e.g.  Enterprise Europe Network's local partners and/or entrepreneurs).

The campaign is part of a multiannual project targeting different Member States yearly. The first pilot campaign ran in 2015 and it was named "Corporate campaign on COSME benefits for SMEs" and it was only focused on the COSME programme. The first wave of the "Open for business" campaign, focused on Single Market opportunities for SMEs, will run from Q2 2016 in Denmark, Portugal, Poland, Ireland and Hungary. The second wave of the "Open for business" campaign will run in 2017 targeting other 5 member states (the final selection of target countries is not available yet).

 The campaign aims at increasing the use of the services/tools for SMEs provided at EU level by promoting the local networks and info access point (such as the Enterprise Europe Network and the relevant portals/web-sites).

Expected Results

The objectives of the campaign are in line with the Art. 11, 3(c) of the Regulation (EU) 1287/2013 establishing the COSME programme and in particular it will contribute to make it "easier for SMEs to access Union programmes and measures, in accordance with the SBA Action Plan".

 

The campaign is addressing directly the target audience with concrete and simple messages: e.g. EU can help you in finding new clients, new business partners and access to finance.

For each message it will be identified a concrete "call to action" such as visit the Your Europe Business portal and/or contact the local branch of the Enterprise Europe Network.

 

We will measure the impact on SMEs and, therefore, the increase of their use of the promoted services through the following indicators: (i) increase of web traffic on the relevant websites, (ii) increase of the number of contacts of the local Enterprise Europe Network, (iii) increase of engagement on relevant social media accounts. More detailed information about impact indicators is available below.

 

The deliverables of the campaign are the radio spots and any other campaign material such as Adverts, banners, Advertorials, content for social media, infographics. In order to better convey the messages of the campaign, the materials will be customised taking into account feedback of the national partners. They will be available in Q2 2018 and they will be disseminated through the EC local networks (EEN, Representations) in order to effectively reach the target.

 

Internet addresses are already available (Your Europe Business portal, national Enterprise Europe Network's web-sites).

the method of implementation nd the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Specific contract under a framework contract

 Open for business campaign 2018

2 000 000 €

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the contract/grant agreement

 

 

Q4 2017

Total duration of the contract is 12 months

 

Indicators

Type of advertising

OUTPUT
(reach within the target group)

OUTTAKE
(recall)

OUTCOME
(action by the target group)

Print

·         readers reached

·         focus group recall

·         recall (large-scale)

·         additional requests received by EEN[9] (emails and/or calls)

·         additional EEN visitors

Radio

·         listeners reached

·         recall

·         additional requests received by EEN (emails and/or calls)

Social media

·         impressions

·         likes

·         favourites

·         clicks

·         click-through rate (CTR)

·         video views (when applicable

·         re-tweets

·         sharings

·         comments

·         additional web-site visits

·         N° of leads

online advertising

·         impressions

·         clicks

·         click-through rate (CTR)

·         video views (when applicable)

·         dwell time

·         N° of leads

·         increase of web-site visits

 


 

C. FRAMEWORK CONDITIONS FOR ENTERPRISES

The third specific objective of COSME is “to improve framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of Union enterprises, particularly SMEs, including in the tourism sector” described in Article 11 of the COSME Regulation.

The COSME Regulation specifies that an indicative 11% of the total budget has to be devoted to improving framework conditions and competitiveness.

In 2017, there will be up to 13 actions to be financed under this specific objective with a budget of more than EUR 35 million.

 

GRO/SME/17/C/01 - SME POLICY (SPR, Start-ups, outreach)

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The objective is to support the creation of a better business environment for SMEs with the following actions:

- the SME Performance Review

- the SME policy implementation

- Outreach tools

- the follow-up of Start-up initiative and of second chance and transfer of business

 

The SME Performance Review provides an empirical statistical tool to monitor SME performance and guide policy making. It supports the Commission's monitoring of improvements in the framework conditions for enterprises, including the implementation of the Small Business Act (SBA).

The SME policy implementation measure aims to support the implementation of the SBA by ensuring the follow-up and monitoring (including exchange of good practices).

The objective of the Outreach tools is to provide communication and information tools to promote the SME policy and inform on SME policy implementation including available support at EU and Member States level.

The actions related to start-ups, second chance and transfer of business aim to disseminate information on and provide support to the initiatives taken in the respective areas to improve the business environment for new entrepreneurs, facilitate transfer of businesses to new owners and help entrepreneurs in difficulty.

Description of the actions to be financed

The SME Performance Review is made up of annual reports and studies.

The 2017 annual report to be issued in autumn will feed into the preparations for the European Semester Country Reports 2018, including an overview of the size, structure and importance of European SMEs, outline the major trends and provide a summary of recent policy developments. The country fact sheets will be instrumental in the monitoring of the SBA implementation. In addition topical studies could be run.

The SME policy implementation measure will cover the SME Envoys network meetings, the SME Week, the Single Market Forum events and the annual SME Assembly (together with the EU presidency) including the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). It will furthermore cover meetings of the SBA National Contact Points (Sherpas to the SME Envoys), the SME Week coordinators, the EEPA Single points of contact and other relevant experts meetings (SME Performance review national experts, late payment directive national experts).

Outreach tools (SME Portal and other tools such as web-based, audiovisual and/or printed

leaflets, social media campaigns, SME definition tool) aim at communicating SME policy to

SMEs and stakeholders. It will also cover communication activities linked to the SME Envoys network. The outreach tools also include the Single Market Forum (incl. the organisation of the closing event together with the Maltese Presidency) and the 'Ideas from Europe' initiative, including scale-up labs (i.e. support for European entrepreneurs during scale-up phase).

The start-ups, transfer of business and second chance actions will cover the organisation of workshops, conferences, analyses and any other actions needed to support the initiatives taken in this area and to follow-up the open consultation launched end of March 2016 on Start-up Initiative. In particular a Conference on Transfer of Business will be organised under the Maltese Presidency.

JUSTIFICATION: An ad-hoc grant will be granted, without an open call for proposals

under Article 190(1)(c) RAP, to government (or its representative), of the country that

will hold the EU Council Presidency (Malta, in 1st half of 2017).

 

Expected Results

SME Performance Review:

- Improved knowledge and understanding of the situation of European SME complementing data from existing other Commission monitoring mechanisms and building on the SME-related parts in current European Semester Country Reports.

- High quality estimation and analysis provides a basis for evidence-based policy making;

- Comparison against the large enterprises sector and benchmarking against the EU average.

SME policy implementation:

- Increased commitment of MS to implement the SBA through the good functioning of the

SME Envoys

- Increased involvement of SME stakeholders in EU-level policy making through the annual SME Assembly and more frequent arrangements to collect feedback on future EU-initiatives.

- Maintain the SME week as a "vitrine" to allow Members States and other countries

participating in COSME to showcase their SME policy instruments and activities

Outreach tools:

- Increased awareness of EU programmes and initiatives to support SMEs

-Increased awareness of the good practices in the area of SME policy

- continued information gathering and improvement of the Single Market, in particular for SMEs, with the Single Market Forum

- increased awareness of Europe's most inspiring entrepreneurs as a leading example to potential future entrepreneurs ('Ideas from Europe')

Start-ups, transfer of business and second chance:

- Increased awareness of EU programmes and initiatives and of the good practices in the area

the method of implementation nd the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Specific contracts under  framework Contracts

 

Specific contracts under a

framework contract; individual contracts

 

Specific contracts under a

framework contract

 

 

Specific grant agreement under

Framework Partnership Agreement

(max co-fin. 95%) & individual

contracts

 

 

Call for tenders and Specific contracts under a framework contract; grant agreement

 (max co-fin. 90%)

 

Grant Agreement, art. 190 RAP

 

SPR

 

 

SME policy implementation

(SME Assembly, SME

Week, SMF)

 

SME policy implementation

(SME Envoys network and

expert meetings)

 

Outreach tools

 

 

 

 

 

Start-ups, transfer of business, second chance

 

 

 

Conference on Business Transfers

1.930.000

 

 

1.500.000

 

 

 

520.000

 

 

 

1.000.000

 

 

 

 

 

880.000

 

 

 

 

120.000

 

Total

5 950 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

SME Performance Review: specific contracts

 

Meeting SME Envoys, Sherpa, EEPA and SME Week coordinators, other experts

 

2017 SME Assembly, SMF

 

Outreach tools

 

Start-ups, transfer of business and second chance

 

Q2 2017

 

Q1-Q4 2017

 

q1-Q4-2017

 

Q1-Q4 2017

 

 

Q3-Q4 2017

Total duration of the contract/grant agreements: 12/14 months

 

 

Indicators

SME Performance Review:

1. The annual report on European SMEs published in due time to inform European Semester work

2. A complete set of SBA fact sheets (average length around 15 pages each) published in due time

SME Policy implementation:

1. Number of meetings organised

2. Number of participants

3. Timely dissemination of the results

4. Progress achieved in the implementation of the measures in the 10 key areas of the SME policy

Outreach tools

1.Timely production of tools (web-based, audiovisual and/or printed leaflets, social media

campaigns)

2 .Effective dissemination of tools and use in major events

3. Impact on target public (number of impacts, number of visits for websites, number of

videos viewed online)

4. particular for SMF: number of workshops, positive feedback by participants

5. particular for Ideas from Europe: (social) media impact; success of support for scaling-up

Start-ups, transfer of business, second chance

1. Number of participants to the meetings

2. Timely dissemination of the results

 

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

Max 95% for the specific grant agreement under Framework Partnership Agreement for some of the Outreach tools

Max 90% for the Conference on Transfer of Business under the Maltese Presidency

 

NA for the other actions

 


 

GRO/SME/17/C/02 - EU REFIT Stakeholder Platform for Better Regulation

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

Advise the Commission on issues concerning regulatory fitness, encouraging stakeholder input. The group have been settled on 19/05/2015 (COM decision C(2015)3260 ).

Description OF THE ACTIONS TO BE FINANCED

The EU REFIT Stakeholder Platform on Better Regulation will bring together Better Regulation experts, Member States experts, stakeholders, supporting the objective to foster smart growth by aiming to improve the regulatory environment.

This will involve contracting studies on issues of regulatory fitness.

IT tools like Better Regulation portal, REFIT Scoreboard, Stakeholders communication web site, are needed to support these actions and stakeholder consultations in particular.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The platform would advise the Commission based on issues raised by stakeholders on regulatory fitness at all levels of government in the EU. 

The work of the platform could also involve the implementation of REFIT actions:   gathering evidence and opinion on the practical impact on-the-ground of EU action.

Studies could support the development of specific smart regulation actions.

the method of implementation and the indication of the amount allocated

implementation mode

TITLE

Budget

Experts reimbursements (Non remunerated experts) and costs for meetings or events

Meetings

150 000

 

Specific contract under a framework contract and/or Open Call for tender

Studies

200 000

Specific contract under a framework contract

IT Development

510 000

Total

860 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Conferences/meetings/events/workshops/studies/material

Q1 – Q4 2017

Total duration

12 months

Indicators

1. Number of plenary sessions and preparatory meetings (target: 2 Governmental experts sessions, 2 Stakeholders sessions and 2 join (GOV+Stakeholders) meetings;

3. Studies to measure regulatory burdens and costs, the results of EU actions or implementation best practice.

4. IT tool (Better Regulation Portal, REFIT/Scoreboard tool, Stakeholders communication web site,…) to be developed.

 


 

GRO/SME/17/C/03 - ACCELERATING THE UPTAKE OF BIG DATA AND SUPPORTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF B2B DIGITAL PLATFORMS IN EUROPE

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The objective of this action is to accelerate the uptake of the data-driven economy and stimulate strategic investments and support services, to allow European enterprises, notably SMEs, reap the full benefits of the digital world.

 

Digital B2B platforms and data-driven business models have grown dramatically in size and scale over the past decade and are affecting every industry. With a total market value of EUR 4 trillion, platforms have become an important economic force with over 1.3 million direct employees, while millions of others are indirectly employed in the related ecosystems.

 

Traditional firms across many sectors are moving to establish their own platforms, powering innovation and giving rise to new business models, products and services.

 

Despite the growing value of the data-driven economy, European investment in digital technologies over the last 10 years has been a third of what companies invested in the US. The use of B2B digital platforms is Europe is large and growing, but only a tiny share of them is “made in Europe”.

 

Industry leaders are aware of the disruptive power of platforms and data-driven models.

 

It is expected that, by the end of 2016, there will be more than 100 new digital industry platforms from non-tech companies. European industry should not miss this huge window of opportunity.

 

Currently, Europe witnesses the emergence of many incompatible platforms and significant regulatory barriers to be resolved such as the sharing of health-related data across countries.

 

Europe needs to boost significant industry investments for infrastructures and support services that are necessary to restore the trust of European enterprises, notably SMEs, in the data-driven economy. Europe also needs to re-think a future-proof regulatory environment, pool demand and promote an innovation culture.

 

This action is in-line with the recent Communication on “Digitising European Industry”, which recognises the merit of data platforms and highlights the need for world-class data infrastructure in Europe to support businesses, notably SMEs' trust in data-driven business models.

 

The action is a follow-up of the recommendations of the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Transformation of European industry, that stressed the unprecedented opportunities from big data and industrial platforms and calls for urgent action.

 

Description of the actions to be financed

This action will help shape, in close collaboration with industry and enterprises, including SMEs, Member States and regions, a  set of actions, focusing on encouraging European industry and SMEs to explore the opportunity for the development of European sector-specific B2B platforms and accelerate the uptake of  data-driven business models. 

 

Taking stock of on-going work notably within the PPP on big data value, mainly oriented towards R&D objectives, this action will focus on marketable infrastructures and projects that are necessary to restore trust in the data-driven economy. It shall:

 

·         monitor the creation and evolution of B2B industrial digital platforms in Europe and globally, identify challenges and regulatory barriers holding back sector-specific platforms from scaling up in Europe. In the healthcare sector, this could comprise promoting a framework for responsible data sharing and connected health platforms to enhance trust;

·         develop common guidelines on safe data usage to encourage businesses make safe and secure use of data. Businesses, especially SMEs, must be provided with the certainty that they can safely and securely generate value from data, without breaching data protection laws;  

·         promote and catalyse the creation of pan-European sector-specific data sets, for example for specific diseases, to ease drug production, improve diagnostics, enhance drug effectiveness and reduce R&D and healthcare costs

·         explore the feasibility of, and stimulate strategic investments by industry in high-impact projects, in collaboration with other relevant Commission services and industry dialogues. Examples could be  such as EU-wide infrastructures for neutral  and independent testing and validation of  new cyber-security solutions, platforms for personalised health monitoring, cross-border gathering and  sharing of health-related data, infrastructure for self-driving cars, smart construction, etc. This will be done networking committed public authorities and industry to achieve geographic scope for a common framework for implementation, offering hands-on advice, research capacity to develop concrete investment projects and scale them up at EU level (to be supported by the European financial instruments and programmes such as EFSI, ESIF, Horizon2020, financial instruments, etc.)

 

Other actions include:

·         explore the implementation of a unique, traceable and manageable EU system for managing digital identities for European firms, citizens, objects and data (e-ID concept);

·         explore the feasibility of the creation of thematic European datasets, i.e. subject-specific repositories, pulling together large quantities and varieties of data, in an interoperable way, to increase safe and secure data usage for European businesses and citizens.

Expected Results

The action will put pressure and raise the sense of urgency for pan-European investments in the data-driven economy and B2B digital platforms, by all actors of the economy, governments, business, academia and citizens.

It will allow tackling some key barriers for digital transformation and secure access to industrial data and will lead to a more innovative, dynamic business environment, stimulating growth and employment.

SMEs in particular, will become more confident to safely and securely use and generate value from data, and thus take more innovative initiatives and improve their competitiveness and growth.

the method of implementation nd the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Call for tenders

 

B2B platforms and the data-driven economy

2.400.000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the call

Award

Signature of the contract

Q2 2017

Q4 2017

Q4 2017

Total duration of the contract: 24 months

Indicators

- Overall quality of the action, research, feasibility studies and relevant reports

- Quality of guidelines on safe data usage;

- Number of countries and European companies, notably SMEs, using the guidelines on safe data usage;

- Number of countries and European companies, notably SMEs, collaborating and adopting a common EU management system of digital identities;

- Number of SMEs gaining access to uniform data and profiting from the establishment of subject-specific Data Lakes;

- Number of companies and SMEs using data quality standards.

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

n/a

 


 

GRO/SME/17/C/04 – MONITORING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND KETS

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The modernisation of Europe's industry is a key pillar of the Commission's objective to boost industrial competitiveness, growth and jobs. The uptake of digital technologies and Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) by traditional industrial and service sectors is crucial for the future competitiveness of the EU. Advanced technologies and new business models enable smaller and more innovative companies to enter the market with highly specialised and smart products and services. Especially SMEs can grow two to three times faster when they embrace digital technologies.

There is thus a clear and urgent need to develop appropriate tools to monitor and analyse in a systematic way emerging digital trends and reliable, regularly updated and comprehensive data on KETs in order to support business stakeholders and European and national/regional policy makers in the development and implementation of policies and initiatives for the deployment and uptake of digital and key enabling technologies in Europe.

 

Description of the actions to be financed

Strand 1 - Digital Transformation Monitor:

 

It is planned to further develop and expand suitable mechanisms to observe and analyse the current diffusion and adoption dynamics of novel digital technologies, especially in the fields of mobile, cloud, social media, data analytics, digitisation, design, prototyping, testing and proof of concept, and collaborative technologies based on the experience of the Digital Entrepreneurship Monitor. Quantitative indicators used in the monitoring and scoreboard methodologies will be complemented by surveys at firm level on a regular basis. The methodological framework of the Digital Transformation Monitor will enable:

- capturing the most recent technology uptake and digital  transformation performance at firm, industry, and country levels;

- measuring the output dimension at firm level, collecting results that can be aggregated at national and sectoral levels;

- benchmarking among EU Member States and between EU and non-EU countries;

- combining perceptions of different stakeholder groups (Policy makers, investors, firms and sectoral associations, etc.);

- proposing country-specific recommendations based on the analysis of policies.

 

Strand 2 - KETs Observatory:

 

The objective of this action is to update, further develop and manage the KETs Observatory activities for its 3rd phase 2018-2020 in order to provide business stakeholders, European and national/regional policy makers with reliable, regularly updated and comprehensive data and analysis on the deployment of KETs for innovative products, processes and services in the EU28 and other regions of the world. The KETs Observatory is a recognised source of information on the performance of Member States and others regions of the world on the technology development and industrial deployment of KETs. The target audience of the KETs Observatory are mainly business stakeholders (including SMEs) and public authorities active in the field of KETs.

The action will support the third phase of the KETs Observatory, notably by

- updating and expanding the underlying database with a special focus on the production & employment impact of KETs in Europe and worldwide, as well as with a stronger assessment of performance in the digital manufacturing areas;

- updating the database according to the latest technological trends, so as to fully capture Europe's capacity to develop KETs-based knowledge and products;

- producing analytical and evidence-based thematic Reports and Country Profiles on EU28 countries and regions, based on their positioning in certain value chains, as well as mapping of KETs technology infrastructures;

- providing insights on, and recommendations for the positioning of Europe in the global race for innovation;

-producing policy recommendations based on the analysis of the data collected;

- organising thematic expert workshops and /or value chain analysis in strategic KETs-related areas. Such specific areas will be defined according to arising policy and/or business needs, as for example, on potential "important projects of common European interest (IPCEI).

 

Both tools:

 

Both monitoring tools will regularly nurture the entrepreneurial discovery process of the Smart Specialisation Strategies of European regions and countries with sound and objective statistical evidence, notably to support their regional SMEs & innovation ecosystems. This action will provide relevant data on how regional authorities can facilitate the uptake of promising technologies by their local SMEs.

Expected Results

Strand 1 - Digital Transformation Monitor:

 

Digital Transformation Monitor: updated and revised monitoring methodology and its components: statistics, surveys, technology and industry monitoring, policy monitoring, working groups. Online https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/dem/monitor

Digital Scoreboard: The Scoreboard will extend the pilot scoreboard methodology developed for the Digital Transformation Monitor. It will draw on the statistics and survey results of the monitoring mechanism to present a policy-relevant snapshot of the comparative progress of different European countries and different sectors in taking up digital technologies. Online and print.

The output of this methodology will allow evaluating and assessing the impact of strategic digital technologies on digital transformation across a number of sectors in Europe.

The primary target audiences are policy makers at European, national and regional levels, but the tools will also directly help enterprises, especially SMEs, acquire a better understanding of new and emerging technologies, to adapt their strategies and increase their adoption of these technologies in order to reap the full benefits of digital transformation.

 

Strand 2 - KETs Observatory:

 

A comprehensive, updated and expanded KETs Observatory database that better reflects the reality of the rapid development and industrial deployment of KETs in Europe and beyond, in particular with regard to the increasing intertwining of KETs and digital technologies.

Active use of the KETs Observatory by public authorities (EU, national, regional) to identify promising KETs-based products and areas for policy support and investment such as, for example, to facilitate the elaboration of potential IPCEIs in strategic KETs-related areas or to provide SMEs with global market intelligence on promising KETs fields.

 

Both tools:

 

Increased awareness and recognition of the Digital Transformation Monitor and the KETs Observatory by a broad community of business stakeholders (including SMEs) and public authorities as reliable, practical and quality tools for monitoring digital transformation and the deployment of KETs in Europe and beyond.

Active use of the Digital Transformation Monitor and the KETs Observatory by regional authorities and industry (including SMEs) to nurture the elaboration and implementation of their Smart Specialisation Strategies with a view to identifying high-quality investment projects at regional level.

the method of implementation And the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Strand 1: Call for tenders

Digital Transformation Monitor

900.000

Strand 2: Call for tenders

KETs Observatory III

900.000

TOTAL

 

1 800 000

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the calls

Award

Signature of the contracts

Q2 2017

Q4 2017

Q4 2017

Total duration of the contracts: 24 months

Indicators

Strand 1 - Digital Transformation Monitor:

- Overall quality of the Digital Transformation Monitor, the Scoreboard and the relevant reports

- Number of countries and policy initiatives covered

- Number of case studies and business paradigms developed

- Number and geographic coverage of relevant policy initiatives deployed

- Degree of digital transformation in selected sectors and by type/size of enterprise

 

Strand 2 - KETs Observatory:

- Overall quality of thematic reports and EU28 country profiles

- Number of indicators linked to expanded database 

- Overall quality assessment of KETs deployment performance

- Number of thematic expert workshops

 

Both tools

- Relevant monitoring of technology areas intertwining KETs and digital technologies

- Operational dimension and quality of country fiches and reports issuing recommendations for Smart Specialisation Strategies, with a specific focus on how to support regional SMEs & innovation ecosystems.

 

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

n/a

 


 

GRO/SME/17/C/05 - European Cluster Excellence programme

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

 

  • to strengthen cluster excellence management to address the innovation, growth and globalization challenges that SMEs are facing, helping cluster organisations to develop strategic plans for a better cooperation at European and international level,

 

  • to improve and consolidate the cluster excellence initiative launched in 2009- 2012, setting up a representative transparent accountable and effective governance including a European Cluster Excellence  Supervisory Board, fixing clear and transparent European principles for a new Cluster Excellence benchmarking, assessment and labelling policy, and developing further a strong Cluster Excellence expertise at European and international level.

 

The Commission launched in 2009 the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI) to create more world-class clusters across the EU by strengthening cluster excellence. Cluster organisations are enhancing collaboration, networking and learning on innovation, channelling specialised and customised business support services to SMEs. High quality cluster management is a key element of successful world-class clusters to foster SMEs competitiveness and for assisting companies to access global markets successfully.

 

Moreover cluster excellence management in the EU requires cluster managers’ skills following industrial trends and major business opportunity that comes along with industrial change.The European cluster benchmarking system currently managed by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA) is delivering good results in terms of attracting clusters from numerous European countries towards more professional cluster management, but there is a need to adjust the current momentum to EU and emerging business priorities such as digitisation of industry, Energy Union, circular economy, European Fund for Strategic Investment, key enabling technologies, global value-chains dynamics.

 

ECEI's main aim was to create a benchmarking methodology for cluster organizations to improve their internal management process and the way they offer services. Secondly, the ECEI sought to develop training materials to help cluster managers improve their own managerial capability. By March 2016, 811 cluster organizations from 40 countries have applied the EU benchmarking methodology and acquired the Bronze label of cluster excellence, 47 cluster organizations from 10 countries got the Silver label and 69 cluster organizations from 14 countries the Gold label. Since 2011, 58.000 SMEs have been involved as members of the labelled clusters organisations, actively contributing to clusters activities in 15 technology areas, notably in creative industries, media and design (10865), information and communication (8303), energy and environment (5425), production and engineering (5381), transportation and mobility (4556).

 

At this point of development, the Commission considers necessary to reinforce the European cluster benchmarking and labelling system building on the results achieved so far in terms of expertise and recognition by the stakeholders. There is clearly a need for a new incentive from the European Commission to consolidate the European Cluster labelling system, to reinforce the European added- value, involving more clusters in support of EU priorities to achieve EU 2020 policy goals in particular industry modernisation, smart specialisation strategies, entrepreneurship, SME internationalisation. There is also a need to further increase the “Europeanisation” of the current benchmarking and labelling system with the support of the ECEI Consortium and the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA), improving in particular its global governance setting-up a European Policy Supervision Board, reviewing European criteria and indicators for benchmarking, assessment an labelling procedures, as well as reinforcing expertise across the EU, notably in less-developed regions.

Description of the actions to be financed

Action 1: to further develop cluster cooperation projects

 

We propose to support Cluster Excellence labelling projects, on the basis of the new labelling principles and methodology as developed in action 2, to further strengthen cluster management across the EU notably in less developed regions to provide more professional business services to European SMEs addressing in particular new industrial trends to scale up and spread out emerging business opportunities across the EU,.

 

Action 2: to simplify and harmonise cluster assessment criteria and procedures

 

This action will be developed through meetings and reporting activities, to be organised by the European Cluster Excellence Consortium (ECEI Consortium) to implement the cluster labelling process, notably:

- to review, simplify and harmonise where necessary the criteria, indicators, and assessment procedures for benchmarking and labelling cluster organizations,

- to further develop and to set up where necessary assessment criteria, indicators, methodologies to benchmark and label European strategic cluster partnerships

- to develop training activities on the basis of calls for Expression of Interest for new assessors on the benchmarking methodology to stimulate cluster excellence across the EU, as well as for new cluster experts on the labelling processes, encouraging twining approaches between junior/senior assessors/experts both in developed and less-developed regions, in order to expand the number of assessors and experts involved in the European cluster benchmarking/assessment and labelling system, and to involve more regions in the process,

- to consolidate data and reporting on European cluster labelling to further analyse the impact of the Cluster Excellence policy on SMEs, in close cooperation with the European Cluster Observatory (ECO),

- to promote the new Cluster Excellence Labelling system across the EU and at international level, in close cooperation with the European Cluster Collaboration platform (ECCP),

 

This measure builds upon the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI) launched in 2009 to create more world-class clusters across the EU by strengthening cluster excellence. At the end of the initiative in 2011, two separate independent spin-off organisations were set up by two consortium partners to carry on with the work: The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA) and The European Foundation for Cluster Excellence (EFCE).

 

Expected Results

On the basis of good results achieved since 2009 in quantitative terms, with about 930 cluster organizations having received the cluster excellence label, this measure attends to: 

-          further expand the number of Cluster organisations labelled across the EU and notably in less developed regions,

-          consolidate the qualitative dimension of this policy to better use cluster organisations to support SMEs to innovate to face new economic challenges as digitisation, circular economy, as well as their internationalisation,

More cluster organisations labelled, notably in less developed regions, means more SMEs active in cluster organisations activities, in particular in transnational activities able to implement EU policies and priorities for the period 2017-2020, in particular smart specialisation strategies, and industrial modernisation as well- structured clusters represents generally a critical mass of companies in the related sector or field of activity able to integrate the innovation eco-system with a strategic vision.

 

A new website will be dedicated to this new initiative in close cooperation with the European Cluster Observatory (ECO) and the European Cluster Collaboration platform (ECCP).

the method of implementation and the indication of the amount allocated

Implementation mode

TITLE

Budget (EUR)

Action 1: call for proposals  (to support 6 to 8 new projects)

Action 2*:  Ad hoc grant with ESCA

 

European Excellence Programme

900 000

 

300 000

Total

 

1 200 000

*Exception case for action 2: Article 128 of the Financial Regulation and article 190c (f) of RAP[10]

INDICATIVE implementation timetable

Milestone description

Indicative quarter

Publication of the calls

Award

Signature of the contracts/grant agreements

Q4 2017/Q4 2016

Q1 2018/Q1 2017

Q2 2018/Q2 2017

Total duration of the contracts/grant agreements: 18 months / 12 month

Call to be published end of 2016 or early 2017, to start the implementation by mid-2017

Indicators

Number of new cluster organisations labelled, in particular in less developed regions,

Additional number of SMEs involved in cluster organisations labelled,

Additional number of assessors/experts involved in the benchmarking  and European labelling cluster system,

Number of training activities performed 

MAXIMUM RATE OF CO-FINANCING

Call for proposals: 75%

Ad hoc grant:90%

 


 

GRO/SME/17/C/06 Industrial Modernisation and Smart Specialisation

OBJECTIVES PURSUED

The overall objective of this action is to boost industrial competitiveness and investment in the EU via cross-regional cooperation and networking by launching three interconnected specific actions: (i) supporting the development of cross-regional investment projects under the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation and Investment, (ii) supporting the development of European Strategic Cluster Partnerships to support cluster cooperation in thematic areas and increase the involvement of industry in the Platform, and (iii) supporting manufacturing firms to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies and therefore increase their competitiveness and innovation capability.

Description of the actions to be financed

ACTION 1: Technical and financial assistance facility for industrial modernisation and investment

This action is one of the complementary support actions to the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation and Investment (SSP-Industry) that is aimed to establish a continuous pipeline for investment projects in the EU in the coming few years. The establishment of this Platform was referred as a specific action in the recently adopted Communication "Digitising European industry. Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market".

The action

The action will provide technical and financial advice to cross-regional networks of businesses and public/private partnerships resulting from SSP-Industry that is aimed to develop investment projects as well as thematic and cross-regional investment platforms in industry-related themes. Evidence shows that without any kind of follow-up support, many well-intentioned cross-regional or transnational cooperation ideas do not mature into viable projects due to lack of sufficient financial preparation and limited knowledge of EU funding instruments. This action will address and focus on the investment readiness gap of industrial projects that are proposed under SSP-Industry. Based on a concept note setting out the intended investment projects, cross-regional business networks and public/private partnerships shaped under SP3-Industry, will be able to seek customised assistance from the support facility to be established through this action, to overcome obstacles on the path to investment readiness, so-called bankable proposals.

The services

Such technical and financial assistance services would include customised feasibility studies, impact assessment and cost-benefit analyses, financial viability modelling including identification of investment sources, legal advice such as on intellectual property and regulatory issues, as well as other support required for the development and funding of an investment project.  Furthermore, the action will help implementing innovative governance approaches by giving assistance to identify and remove regulatory obstacles to innovation and investment in close cooperation with the Commission and national/regional/local authorities. Such efforts may also result to a number of Innovation Deals.

Moreover, in the framework of SSP-Industry, the action will organise a series of regional specific events to present to industrial stakeholders all existing EU funding opportunities for their investment projects, in particular through the Investment Plan, and inform them about the technical and financial advisory services that are available to them through this action.

The process

The technical assistance facility would be provided by a consortium of competent and experienced organisations in providing such services directly to businesses in a European or transnational context.  The assistance services will not duplicate any of the services provided by the European Investment Advisory Hub, set up by the European Investment Bank. These services will try to involve local financial experts and associate in this work as much as possible National Promotional Banks. The selection of viable joint business and public/private projects and the provision of technical assistance would be gradual and staggered over the contract period to ensure that this support is available when the business partnerships need it.

The added-value

In addition to the technical and financial assistance facility, the service contract will also include a management and monitoring mechanism to track the impact of the action in terms of successful investment cases, the number and nature of the companies involved, their sector and area of economic activity, as well as the potential economic impact of the support provided. The European added value of the action lies in the fact that it is intended to support the practical implementation of the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation and Investment, notably its ambition to provide a continuous cross-regional pipeline of investment projects in different industrial fields.

 

ACTION 2: European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments

The objective of the measure is to pilot the implementation of European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments in the context of the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation and Investment. The measure will help to boost the collaboration of enterprises, notably SMEs, across regional and sectoral silos towards generating joint actions and investment projects in common priority areas linked to industrial modernisation and help to improve their business environment.

The action

The measure will bring together cluster organisations, other business networks, technology centres and science parks in European Strategic Cluster Partnerships. The partnerships are expected to be formed around common industrial thematic areas, which also correspond to the smart specialisation priorities of their regions. The focus of the measure is placed on industrial modernisation, such as through Key Enabling Technologies, ICT, service innovation and resource efficiency. The possible industrial thematic areas of the Partnerships therefore include advanced manufacturing, digital transformation/industry 4.0, digital platforms, big data analytics, space data services, advanced material and disruptive business models and service concepts including in creative industries, textiles and tourism.

 

At least eight European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments will be implemented through this measures that are each expected to:

 

  1. Develop and implement a joint cluster partnership strategy with a common “European” vision for a specific smart specialisation priority (including a joint branding and marketing);
  2. Undertake advanced preparatory actions (such as tailored SME surveys, value chain analysis, mapping and matching of innovation challenges/needs with R&D results and innovation solutions across cluster firms in the partnerships, the identification of capacity building and scale-up potential, and the drafting of an implementation roadmap of joint activities);
  3. Implement joint activities intended to mobilise the inter-regional collaboration and investments of industry actors, notably SMEs (such as matchmaking events, joint demonstration events, joint growth accelerator and investor pitching events);
  4. Implement joint activities and provide related business and growth support services for the preparation of joint collaboration and investments projects, notably SMEs (such as support for the preparation of bankable proposals, joint provision of coaching, mentoring, investment-readiness, entrepreneurship and business support including business scale-up and growth acceleration, innovation management, technology assessment and IPR & licensing support);
  5. Identify, prepare and test joint activities to strengthen cluster cooperation across the partnership towards improving the cluster-specific framework conditions (such as cooperation in the area of vocational training, education and skills; knowledge sharing, technology transfer, joint innovation challenges, pan-regional provision of venture capital and exploring the shared use of innovation infrastructures and demand from cluster firms for support services from technology infrastructures and centres to facilitate SME access to technology centres, including KETs infrastructure);
  6. Gather concrete feed-back from SMEs on their specific barriers to innovation, skills, cooperation and investment (to feed into the discussion in the context of the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on industrial modernisation and investment, Innovation Deals, the Investment Plan and skills); and
  7. Undertake concrete activities to build linkages with other relevant European, national or regional initiatives and key networks (such as joint activities, events, communications e.g. with the Enterprise Europe Network, Knowledge and Innovation Communities, Horizon2020 actions, Interreg Europe).

 

The measure builds upon the successful experience of establishing European Strategic Cluster Partnerships (ESCPs) as part of the Cluster Internationalisation Programme for SMEs under COSME. The focus lies here, however, not on supporting SME internationalisation with strategic partners in third countries beyond Europe but on supporting the inter-regional cluster cooperation for the benefit of SMEs, their scale-up and joint investment projects within Europe.

Moreover, it builds upon two pilot projects to reinforce collaboration among clusters and technology centres entitled “Towards EU Regional Economic Convergence”, for which a call for proposals was launched in 2015 with funding from the European Parliament. The scope is extended though in the current measure by moving from supporting only the preparation phase to supporting in particular the implementation phase of European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments.